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  1. 1. Introduction to Sigtran by Jim Darroch, Protocol Development Manager, Artesyn Communication ProductsSigtran is a working group of the IETF, formed in 1999, and tasked with defining anarchitecture for the transport of real-time signaling data over IP networks. Its workculminated in not just the architecture, but also the definition of a suite of protocols tocarry SS7 and ISDN messages over IP.This protocol suite is made up of a new transport layer -- the Stream ControlTransmission Protocol (SCTP) -- and a set of User Adaptation (UA) layers which mimicthe services of the lower layers of SS7 and ISDN.This article describes the Sigtran architecture and protocol suite. It starts by outlining thenetwork architecture within which the Sigtran suite applies, effectively defining theproblem solved by SCTP and the UAs. It continues to describe the protocol requirementsfor transporting signaling information over IP -- presenting an argument why existingprotocols (such as TCP) are not suitable for this purpose. Finally, the UA layersthemselves are discussed -- covering both their functionality and their applicability.Before advancing into the topic of transporting signaling information over IP, it is best toconsider why such a facility may be required. In essence, discuss the problem beforedescribing the solution.VoIP BackgroundThe application space for Sigtran is Voice over IP (VoIP) or, more accurately, Mediaover IP (MoIP). "Media" applies to any real-time traffic: Voice, music, video, etc.The possibilities of using the Internet to carry voice traffic arose in 1995. PC softwarealready existed to make connections between computers, over the public Internet (by wayof dialup connections to an ISP at the local call rate). In the early days of VoIP thisfacility was enhanced to accept digitized voice, split it into packets, and present it to theInternet connection as data. Correspondingly, packets received from the remote PCwould be reassembled into a digital voice stream and sent to the PC’s speakers.While it was feasible to hold a conversation in such a fashion, there are somefundamental problems with this architecture:• The voice quality was terrible. The Internet connections had no pre-allocated bandwidth and were subject to variable packet delay. These contributed to jittery conversations, with chunks of speech missing.• There were no standards which defined how the voice was packetized and how connections were established and managed. Subscribers had to use the same VoIP package in order to talk.
  2. 2. • Only simple (phone) network topologies were supported -- point-to-point connections between known IP addresses. There were no defined interfaces between the Internet and the PSTN.• Only simple call services were supported; basically, conversations. None of the services normally associated with the PSTN (such as call forwarding) were supported.These limitations made it impossible to deploy VoIP on the scale required to make itusable by businesses or a large-scale home-user base.A Scalable ArchitectureThe next stage in the evolution of VoIP was to define an architecture which wouldsupport integration between the PSTN and IP networks. This would provide a signalingcapability for call management as well as defined media paths through the IP network(with reserved bandwidth for real-time media.)Several groups began work in this area, some cooperatively, others in isolation. Theseincluded:• ETSI -- the TIPHON project.• ITU -- H.323 working groups.• The Softswitch Consortium.• The IETF -- MGCP working group, amongst others.The work undertaken by these groups established a common architecture which definesthe interfaces between the PSTN and IP networks to support voice (or any other streamedmedia) over IP. Some new network node types have been introduced, and theirresponsibilities and functions are also defined. The architecture is defined in [2] andillustrated in Fig. 1. IP Network MGC MGC SS7 SS7 SG IP IP SG Phone SCP Voice Voice MG MG Fig. 1: Interfaces Between PSTN and IP Networks For Voice
  3. 3. Integrated Network ArchitectureIn Fig. 1, the following network elements are defined:• MGC -- Media Gateway Controller, responsible for mediating call control (between the SG and MG) and controlling access from the IP world to/from the PSTN.• SG -- Signaling Gateway, responsible for interfacing to the SS7 network and passing signaling messages to the IP nodes.• MG -- Media Gateway, responsible for packetization of voice traffic and transmitting the traffic towards the destination.• IP SCP -- an IP-enabled Service Control Point (SCP). This exists wholly within the IP network, but is addressable from the SS7 network.• The IP Phone (generically referred to as a ‘terminal’).These terms are not ubiquitous. In the H.323 world, the MGC is referred to as the"Gatekeeper," while the SG and MG are known singularly as a "Gateway." Often, allthree elements are termed "Softswitch."Note that the MG, SG and MGC are logical entities. In physical implementations thefunctions may be combined in single network nodes, for example:• In North American PSTN networks, the signaling and media links are carried on physically separate links. Thus, it makes sense to have physically distinct SG and MG nodes.• In European PSTN networks, it is more common to have signaling and voice channels sharing physical links, so it makes sense for the SG and MG to be co-located.This architecture allows network vendors to build Gateways and Controllers which maybe deployed in real networks. Network operators may build truly integrated PSTN/IPnetworks which are scalable and offer viable services to subscribers.Setting The StandardsIn addition to defining the nodes in the network used to interconnect the PSTN and IPnetworks, the working groups listed before have defined the protocols which run betweenthem. There are two sets of standards which have gained widespread recognition:• H.323 -- defined by the ITU.• The IETF model, comprising of SIP, Sigtran, RTP and MGCP or Megaco.• The IETF define the Sigtran suite specifically for transporting SS7 over IP. This is core to our subject and will be discussed in much more detail than H.323.H.323H.323 is not a single protocol specification: it is an architectural description, includingreferences to a suite of protocols required for network integration. Very little of H.323 is
  4. 4. relevant to the matter under discussion here, but the following serves as a brief outline ofits components.The following network elements are defined:• Gateway -- provides translation of both call control (signaling) and media from the PSTN to/from an IP network; roughly equivalent to a combination of the SG and MG Fig. 1, again.)• Gatekeeper -- governs access to the Gateway from both the IP and PSTN side; roughly equivalent to the MGC (in Fig. 1.)• H.323 terminal -- typically an IP phone (in Fig. 1); this could be any IP device used as such (e.g. a PC.)• The generic term "H.323 endpoint" is defined as either a Terminal or Gateway -- it refers to the terminus of an H.323 connection.The following protocols are defined:• H.225 RAS -- Registration, Authentication and Status protocol. This runs between the Gatekeeper and an H.323 endpoint to provide secure access control.• H.225 Call Signaling -- establishes connections between H.323 endpoints.• H.245 Control Signaling -- runs between H.323 endpoints, allowing exchange of control messages (such as terminal capabilities.)• RTP -- the Real Time Protocol, which carries packetized media between H.323 endpoints.IETF ModelThe IETF, through a number of working groups, have established a similar model toH.323. The network nodes defined in this model are again shown in Fig. 1. The protocolsdefined are:• SCTP (and adaptation layers) -- this is the Sigtran protocol suite, which is used to carry SS7 between the SG and MGC.• Megaco -- Media Gateway Control (also defined by the ITU as H.248.) This is the control protocol between an MGC and MGs.• SIP -- Session Initiation Protocol. SIP is a call-control protocol running between MGCs or MGCs and IP-based phones.• RTP -- the IETF specifies the same Real Time Protocol as H.323 for carrying packetized media.It is in the IETF model that the Sigtran suite of protocols (including SCTP) is of mostinterest when considering IP as a transport for signaling traffic. In Fig. 1 the red linesrepresent the connections which carry the Sigtran protocols.
  5. 5. The Need For SCTP And Adapting The SolutionSCTP is a new transport protocol, designed with the transport of time-sensitive signalingdata in mind. It remains flexible enough, however, to be of general use. One question tobe addressed is why the Sigtran group went to all the trouble of defining a new transportlayer, when they could have chosen to use TCP?The easiest way, from a protocol implementer’s point of view, to run an SS7 layer overIP is to take the chosen layer, define an interface to the IP transport layer (TCP) and plugthe two together.Unfortunately, there are some fundamental flaws with this approach:• It’s inflexible -- once you’ve got SCCP running over TCP/IP, you are still without a solution to run ISUP.• It’s unlikely that any other equipment vendor will have designed an SS7 to IP interface which is anything like yours. The structure of your IP packets, holding the SS7 information, will appear alien to any other vendors packets.• There may be peer-to-peer management issues (such as connection establishment or quality of service negotiation) which have not been addressed.It’s clear from the above that we have to address the issues of standardization andscalability (or reuse). One way of approaching this is to provide an "adapter" overTCP/IP which redefines the transport service in terms of what the upper signalingprotocol would expect: In essence, to make TCP/IP look like a lower layer of SS7 (forexample, MTP3.) Such an object is referred to as a User Adaptation (UA) layer -- whichsits above TCP in the protocol stack.The primary roles of such a layer would be to:• Define a standard method by which the upper layer (for example, ISUP or SCCP) would be encapsulated within the TCP message.• Provide a framework for peer-to-peer management, such as socket interfaces, port numbers and so on.Having solved the problems of peer-to-peer management and standardization (both endsof the connection use the same UA), scalability and reuse fall into place as the samemodel is applied to other upper layers -- there would be a UA for use by SCCP, ISUP andso forth.The downside of such an architecture is that it relies on the services of TCP. We must askourselves an important question: Is a byte-stream oriented protocol well suited to carryingtime-critical signaling messages?
  6. 6. The Problem with TCPThere have been questions raised over the suitability of TCP to carry a time-criticalprotocol like SS7. The questions arise from the very fact that TCP was originallydesigned for an altogether different purpose.TCP is byte-streamed, it provides a single stream of data and guarantees that data to bedelivered in byte-sequence order. This makes it ideal for delivery of large, unstructuredpieces of data, like a file or e-mail message. Unfortunately, that very feature is itsdownfall.TCP is particularly sensitive to delays caused by network errors: By loss of bytes,messages, or sequence violation. When this occurs, TCP will hold up delivery of all data(within this monolithic stream) until the correct sequence is restored.Consider the consequences of this in terms of delivering SS7 messages. If a single TCPstream carries the ISUP signaling for many connections, then the loss of a messagerelevant to only one resource (such as a telephone call) will result in the delay of all otherISUP messages.An additional problem is the duration of some TCP timers, which are defined in terms ofmany seconds. In particular, the length of the Connection, Keep Alive andRetransmission timers may result in excessive delays to connection set-up, determiningconnection loss and data retransmission.Recognition of this has resulted in industry experts from many network equipmentvendors cooperating to study the problems and propose a solution. This has been doneunder the auspices of the IETF, in the form of the Sigtran working group.SCTPThe Sigtran Working Group has defined a Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP)[1] which aims to address the shortcomings of TCP. SCTP itself is a general purposeprotocol, a replacement for TCP.SCTP has the following set of features:• It is a Unicast protocol -- data exchange is between two known endpoints.• It defines timers of much shorter duration than TCP.• It provides reliable transport of user data -- detecting when data is corrupt or out of sequence, and performing repair as necessary.• It is rate-adaptive, responding to network congestion and throttling back transmission accordingly.• It supports multi-homing -- each SCTP endpoint may be known by multiple IP addresses. Routing to one address is independent of all others and, if one route becomes unavailable, another will be used.
  7. 7. • It uses an initialization procedure, based on cookies, to prevent denial-of-service attacks.• It supports bundling, where a single SCTP message may contain multiple "chunks" of data -- each of which may contain a whole signaling message.• It supports fragmentation, where a single signaling message may be split into multiple SCTP messages in order to be accommodated within the underlying PDU.• It is message-oriented, defining structured frames of data. TCP, conversely, imposes no structure on the transmitted stream of bytes.• It has a multi-streaming capability -- data is split into multiple streams, each with independent sequenced delivery. TCP has no such feature.Aside from enhanced security, the final two points are what makes SCTP so much moresuited to carrying signaling messages than TCP.The transmission of bounded, structured frames is a useful feature for the UA layers (aswell as any other potential SCTP user.) The transport protocol does all the work to splitthe stream of data into message segments -- relieving the user’s responsibility to interpreta continuous stream of bytes. Such processing would otherwise have to be repeated byeach user.Defining a structure for the messages also makes support of bundling and fragmentationless arduous.Multi-streaming is the main attraction, however (even the protocol’s name implies this:Stream Control Transmission Protocol.) This feature was explicitly designed to allowusers to partition a single IP connection between two endpoints into separate logicalstreams of data, and assign each stream to a particular application or resource. Theprinciple is that errors or delays on one stream will not interfere with normal delivery onanother.Consider the example of the ISUP protocol. ISUP carries signaling messages for manyPSTN resources (essentially trunk circuits, think of each one as a telephone call.) If threecalls are in progress, then one of the calls experiencing a loss of data should not cause adelay in transmission of messages relating to another call.If ISUP is carried over TCP (see Fig. 2) a single "pipe" of data carries all ISUP messagesfor all three calls. Call 3 Call 2 Call 1 Call 3 Call 2 Call 1 Fig. 2: SingleData Pipe Carries All ISUP Messages
  8. 8. ISUP Over TCP And SCTPIf the establishment messages for all three calls are received correctly, then the calls arein progress. If the calls are then released in the same order, but the release message forCall 1 is lost, then the release messages for the other two calls will be delayed while TCPrecognizes the loss and recovers the data. This has the potential to delay the release ofCalls 1 and 2 for a large number of seconds, an unacceptable delay to the PSTN.Consider now ISUP carried over SCTP (see Fig. 3.) Call 1 Call 1 Call 2 Call 2 Call 3 Call 3 Fig. 3: ISUP Carried Over SCTPIn this case, loss of a message relating to Call 1 affects only that stream of data. Calls 2and 3 are serviced as normal. The resources relating to Call 1 will still be tied up until thetransport protocol recovers from the loss of data, but this situation is no different fromthat in traditional PSTN transport protocols.Sigtran ArchitectureThe Sigtran suite (including SCTP and all the UAs) is shown in 0. TCAP SCCP MTP3 ISDN M3UA M2UA M2PA SUA IUA SCTP IP Fig. 4: Sigtran Protocol Suite
  9. 9. Some notes on Fig. 4:• The red areas show the new protocol layers as defined by Sigtran, while the blue areas illustrate existing protocols. For simplicity, ISUP has not been shown -- this would normally run over MTP3 or M3UA.• The UA layers are named according to the service they replace, rather than the user of that service. For example, M3UA adapts SCTP to provide the services of MTP3 -- rather then providing a service to MTP3.The Sigtran adaptation layers all serve a number of common purposes:• To carry upper layer Signaling Protocols over a reliable IP-based transport.• To provide the same class of service offered at the interface of the PSTN equivalent. For example, M3UA must provide the same look and feel to its users as MTP3 -- in terms of services, at least (M3UA does not actually replace the features and operations of MTP3).• To be transparent: The user of the service should be unaware that the adaptation layer has replaced the original protocol (although this is largely dependant on the implementation).• To remove as much need for the lower SS7 layers as possible.Sigtran currently defines six adaptation layers, as follows:• M2UA [4] provides the services of MTP2 in a client-server situation, such as SG to MGC. Its user would be MTP3.• M2PA [5] provides the services of MTP2 in a peer-to-peer situation, such as SG-to- SG connections. Its user would be MTP3.• M3UA [3] provides the services of MTP3 in both a client-server (SG to MGC) and peer-to-peer architecture. Its users would be SCCP and/or ISUP.• SUA [4] provides the services of SCCP in a peer-to-peer architecture, such as SG to IP SCP. Its user would be TCAP, or another transaction-based application part.• IUA [7] provides the services of the ISDN Data Link Layer (LAPD.) Its user would be an ISDN Layer 3 (Q.931) entity.• V5UA [9] provides the services of the V.5.2 protocol.It should be noted that the framework is flexible enough to allow for the addition of newlayers as required.Each UA has a particular applicability, which is discussed in the following sections.M2UAM2UA is used to transfer MTP2-user data between the MTP2 instance on a SG and theMTP3 instance on an MGC. As such it operates a client-server model, where the MGC isthe client and the SG is the server.M2UA provides a means by which an MTP2 service may be provided on an MGC. Inessence, extending SS7 into the IP network.
  10. 10. The architecture of M2UA usage is shown in Fig. 5. Signaling Gateway Media Gateway Controller NIF MTP3 MTP2 M2UA M2UA SCTP SCTP SS7 MTP1 IP IP Links Fig. 5: M2UA ArchitectureEffectively, the MTP3 instance on the MGC is the user of the MTP2 instance on the SG!Neither MTP2 nor MTP3 are aware that they are remote from one another. This process,by which signaling messages are passed over IP from the top of one SS7 layer to thebottom of another, is described as backhauling.The MTP3 user at the MGC would usually be ISUP.This architecture is most applicable in the following circumstances:• There is a low density of SS7 links at a particular physical point in the network (perhaps as low as one)• There are a large number of physically separate SG functions (due to the SS7 links being physically located remotely from each other)• The SG function is co-located with an MG (usually due to one or more of the previous conditions)In this case, it makes sense to host MTP3 in the MGC. The SS7 address (the pointcode)of the system resides with MTP3: If each SG had its own MTP3 layer, a large number ofpointcodes would be required to implement a (logically) single gateway.This particular Sigtran configuration is likely to be common in European networks,where the SS7 signaling links share the physical medium with voice circuits.At the SG side, the depiction of M2UA at the peer level to MTP2 is slightly misleading.M2UA is, in many ways, a user of MTP2: The specification defines that M2UA is
  11. 11. responsible for initiating protocol actions which would normally be issued by MTP3,such as:• Link activation and deactivation• Sequence number requests• MTP2 transmit/retransmit buffer updating procedures• Buffer flushingThese are implementation issues, however. Such functionality could well reside withinthe Nodal Interworking Function (NIF).M2PAM2PA is the peer-to-peer equivalent of M2UA. Rather than provide a link betweenremotely-located MTP2 and MTP3 instances, it replaces an MTP2 link beneath MTP3.The user of M2PA is MTP3 at both ends of the connection (with M2UA, one user isMTP3 and the other is an SG IWF).M2PA provides a means for peer MTP3 layers in SGs to communicate directly. Inessence, it extends the reach of SS7 over the IP network.The architecture of M2PA usage is shown in Fig. 6. Signaling Gateway Signaling Gateway MTP3 MTP3 MTP2 M2PA M2PA MTP2 SCTP SCTP SS7 MTP1 IP IP MTP1 SS7 Links Links Fig. 6: M2PA ArchitectureThis architecture is most applicable for an SG to SG connection, used to bridge two SS7network "islands." In this case, each SG may connect to multiple other SGs, none ofwhich need to know about the upper layer that they are supporting.
  12. 12. MTP3 is present on each SG to provide routing and management of the MTP2/M2PAlinks. Because of the presence of MTP3, each SG would require its own SS7 pointcode.Replacing MTP2 links with M2UA is a distinct case from accessing an IP SCP from anSG (the service provided by SUA.) In the SUA case it is known that the higher layer isTCAP (or another application part): The SCCP services can be explicitly provided.M2PA, on the other hand, has no knowledge of the upper SS7 layer.The significant difference in function from M2UA is that M2PA actually provides anMTP2-like service itself. M2UA merely provides an interface to a remote MTP2 service.This means that M2PA is responsible for:• Link activation/deactivation (in response to requests from MTP3)• Maintaining link status information• Maintaining sequence numbers and retransmit buffers, for retrieval by MTP3• Maintaining local and remote processor outage statusM3UAM3UA is similar to M2UA, in that it operates in a client-server way to provide an upperlayer SS7 with protocol remote access to the lower layers. Like M2UA, M3UA operatesbetween an SG and an MGC.M3UA provides a means by which an MTP3 service may be provided on an MGC (thus,terminating the ISUP connection on the MGC) -- essentially extending the reach of SS7into the IP network.The architecture of how M3UA fits into the SG/MGC model is shown in Fig. 7. Signalling Gateway Media Gateway Controller NIF ISUP MTP3 M3UA M3UA MTP2 SCTP SCTP SS7 MTP1 IP IP Links Fig. 7: M3UA Architecture In SG/MGC Model
  13. 13. The MTP3 in the SG is unaware that the ISUP user is located remotely (the NIF willregister itself as ISUP with MTP3.) Similarly, the ISUP layer at the MGC will beunaware that it is not served by a local MTP3. This is another example of the MGCbackhauling signaling messages from the SG.This architecture is most appropriate in the following circumstances:• There is a high enough density of SS7 links to make a standalone SG viable• The SS7 links are physically accessible at a single point• These conditions are common in North American networks, where the SS7 links are physically separate from the voice circuits. In this case, a number of links are gathered together into a single physical medium (for example, a T1 line.)Here each SG has a local MTP3 instance, and so must have its own SS7 pointcode.The M3UA layer is responsible for maintaining the MTP3-ISUP interface across anSCTP connection. Commands and requests for data transfer passed down by ISUP on theMGC are carried (over SCTP) by M3UA and presented to the upper interface of MTP3on the SG. Indications and incoming data messages are passed up from MTP3 on the SGand carried (over SCTP) by M3UA to the lower interface of ISUP on the MGC.As with M2UA, the depiction of M3UA as a peer of MTP3 may be slightly misleading.Logically, M3UA is a user of MTP3 at the SG. How the two layers interwork is animplementation issue.SUASUA provides a means by which an Application part (such as TCAP) on an IP SCP maybe reached via an SG. The network architecture associated with SUA allows for multipleIP SCPs to be reached via a single SG. The IP SCP(s) do not have local MTP3 instances,and so do not require their own S7 pointcodes (MTP3, and the pointcode, reside on theSG.)The architecture of SUA use between an SG and IP SCP is shown in Fig. 8.
  14. 14. Signaling Gateway IP SCP NIF TCAP SCCP SUA SUA MTP3 MTP2 SCTP SCTP SS7 Links MTP1 IP IP Fig. 8: SUA Architecture UsageThe functionality of SUA could be provided by the MTP2 or MTP2 UAs. However, SUAprovides the mapping between SCCP addresses and IP addresses (at the SG). Withoutsuch a function, SCCP would have to be present at each IP SCP and the external SS7network would require knowledge of each such SCCP instance. SUA can abstract thepresence of each IP SCP, providing one SCCP address to cover all nodes.The services of individual databases are addressed via Subsystem Number (SSN). SUAprovides a service not unlike SCCP Global Title Translation (GTT) to map these SSNsinto SCCP connection IDs (which are used to route the Application Part messages to theappropriate IP SCP).SUA is also flexible enough to support Application Parts running between two networknodes wholly within the IP network. This is particularly relevant to emerging networks,where there may be no need for an underlying "traditional" SS7 network. In this case theIP SCP stack would be the same on both (IP-based) nodes.SUA will further allow Service Databases in the SS7 network to be accessed from the IPnetwork. In this case the architecture would be the same as in Fig 8.IUA and V5UAWe are concerned here solely with the adaptation of SS7 layers over SCTP, and so IUAand V5UA are not discussed. Refer to 6and 8 for more information on these UAs.
  15. 15. References And Glossary1. RFC 2960 -- Stream Control Transmission Protocol2. RFC 2719 -- Framework Architecture for Signaling Transport3. SS7 MTP3 -- User Adaptation Layer <fdaft-ietf-sigtran-m3ua-06.txt>4. SS7 MTP2 -- User Adaptation Layer <draft-ietf-sigtran-m2ua-06.txt>5. SS7 MTP2 -- User Peer-to-Peer Adaptation Layer <draft-ietf-sigtran-m2pa-02.txt>6. SS7 SCCP -- User Adaptation Layer <draft-ietf-sigtran-sua-04.txt>7. RFC 3057 -- ISDN Q.921-User Adaptation Layer8. IETF Web Site: http://www.ietf.org9. V.5.2 -- User Adaptation Layer <draft-ietf-sigtran-v5ua-00.txt>ETSI European Telecommunications Standardization InstituteIETF Internet Engineering Task ForceGTT Global Title TranslationHDLC High Level Data Link ControlIP Internet ProtocolISUP ISDN User PartITU International Telecommunications UnionIUA ISDN User Adaptation layerM2PA MTP2 Peer-to-peer user Adaptation layerM2UA MTP2 User Adaptation layerM3UA MTP3 User Adaptation layerMegaco Media Gateway Control (IETF Working Group)MG Media GatewayMGC Media Gateway ControllerMGCP Media Gateway Control ProtocolMTP Message Transfer PartPSTN Public Switched Telephone NetworkRTP Real Time ProtocolSCCP Signaling Connection Control PartSCP Service Control PointSCTP Stream Control Transport ProtocolSG Signaling GatewaySigtran Signaling transport (IETF Working Group)SIP Session Initiation Protocol (IETF Working Group)SP SS7 Signaling PointSS7 Signaling System No. 7SSN SubSystem NumberSSP Service Switching PointSTP Signaling Transfer PointTALI Transport Adaptation Layer InterfaceTCAP Transaction Capabilities Application PartTIPHON Telecommunications and IP Harmonization On NetworksUA User Adaptation layerV5UA V5.2-User Adaptation layer
  16. 16. About The AuthorJim Darroch has been with Artesyn Communication Products since 1996 and is currentlythe Protocol Development Manager. Previous positions included Software Architect andProject Manager, working with X.25, ISDN, Frame Relay, SS7 and Sigtran. Beforejoining ACP, Jim spent four years at HP as a senior software engineer and technicalarchitect working on a distributed surveillance system for SS7 networks. Jim earned aBSc (Hons) in Computer Science from Strathclyde University, in Scotland, and lives inEdinburgh.He can be contacted at;, telephone: +44 (0) 131 475 7014For more information about Artesyn visit its web site at: